The Five Steps to an Eco-Friendly Garden

The Five Steps to an Eco-Friendly Garden

Guest post by Katie Myers

Did you know that 44% of young people are unhappy with the current state of the environment? There are many ways that we can help to improve the state of the environment, and many of these we try to practise daily such as recycling and leaving the car at home when we can. However, whilst many of us often try so hard to make our homes eco-friendly, we often forget about our gardens.

Becoming an eco-friendly gardener is not nearly as hard as it sounds. There are just five easy changes that you can make to transform your outdoor space into an eco-friendly one. The right gardening techniques will not only help you to achieve your eco-friendly status, but will also attract a wider range of wildlife into your garden, help you save money on your water bills and can even help you to lose weight.

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Companion planting: how to do it, mistakes to avoid

Companion planting: how to do it, mistakes to avoid

Companion planting is a small-scale method of intercropping, which refers to the practice of planting one kind of plant next to another or others that help it thrive. It is often associated with small-scale organic gardening (the type of gardening I have exclusively done for the past 18 years) or other biodynamic planting methods, and it is a favorite technique of farmers seeking to produce more yield in less space.

Although popular literature touts the benefits of intercropping over monocropping, there is a lot of debate, and consequently, confusion over which plants go well together, and whether some of the reported benefits of companion planting are consistent or coincidental. This is partly a debate between using scientific methods (usually in controlled, laboratory stings) and using personal experience to determine how to companion plant. There are benefits to both methods, though admittedly, I prefer to rely mostly on experience (my own and that of successful gardeners I know) with a smattering of science to help me understand why certain combinations have seemed to work well in my own garden, while others don’t seem to have much effect one way or another.

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Installing and Maintaining a Japanese Zen Garden in Your Backyard

Installing and Maintaining a Japanese Zen Garden in Your Backyard

guest post by Craig Scott

Zen gardens were originally created by Buddhist monks as a place for meditation and contemplation. In earlier times, they became known as a space for the ruling elite in Japan – a place where they could find calm and peace while the country was in the midst of war or strife. But with the passing of time, Zen gardens became associated with a way of life deeply rooted in Japanese culture.

A traditional Zen garden is a miniature landscape of mountains and water. It is created using artistry infused with tranquility that can inspire a homeowner as well as visitors seeking peace and comfort in their lives. Installing and maintaining a Japanese Zen garden in your garden will not only add beauty to your premises, but will also add value to your house. Here are the steps you should take in building this type of garden in your home.

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How Growing a Garden Improves Your Health

How Growing a Garden Improves Your Health

Guest post by Clara Beaufort

If you’re looking for a way to get more active, eat healthier, and improve your overall mental and physical health, look no further than your backyard. Gardening is one of the best activities people can do to benefit their overall health and well-being, and we explore how growing vegetables and flowers can pack such a powerful punch below.

Gardening Benefits Your Mental Health

You don’t have to be an adventurous whitewater rafter or mountain climber to get the mental health benefits of being in nature. When you work with the soil and plant bulbs and seeds, you are beginning a journey to better mental health. Gardening has therapeutic value, and spending time outdoors boosts people’s moods, reduces their depression and feelings of isolation, and relieves their stress.

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What Gardens Can Teach Us about the Power and Challenge of Community

What Gardens Can Teach Us about the Power and Challenge of Community

(part 1 of 2)

There are many advantages to community gardens, but also a lot of misconceptions about them. Most studies have focused on their health benefits, with some citing reduced risk of obesity, improved mental health, and encouraging diets that are richer in fruits and vegetables. Other studies challenge these views, pointing out that people who engage in community gardening are already likely to maintain fairly healthy lifestyles. Some have also pointed out that community gardeners engage in gardening practices that create a high carbon footprint (using synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides and growing things that require large amounts of water are 2 such practices), and that most urban gardeners demonstrate a lack of agricultural experience.

Doubtless, community gardens can have a dark side, but overall, the consensus is that they are a positive development, improving the life and health of local communities and addressing problems like urban blight, food deserts, and stormwater runoff.

The view from history, though, suggests that there is another important aspect of community gardens that is hardly explored. My interviews with Brother Rashad and Pastor Willie Wilson of Union Temple Baptist Church in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC suggest that community gardens embody our collective pasts as well as enable us to build new relationships of trust and mutual appreciation. This post is the first of two posts that explore some of these aspects of community gardening in the Washington, DC area.

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Urban gardening: plant cover crops this fall for a better, faster, and more abundant harvest

Urban gardening: plant cover crops this fall for a better, faster, and more abundant harvest

As more and more people around the world have become aware of the ongoing problems with industrial, large scale farming, we’ve seen a rise in urban and peri-urban farming. This is ultimately a good thing, but it can also present some problems that exacerbate existing problems.

Whether urban farming can solve any of the current global agricultural crises (food waste, food deserts, soil erosion, overuse of pesticides, increased use of GMOs, monocropping) is debatable, but done efficiently, it can address some of these problems on a small scale.

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